Miami Heat

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Posted by sonny 03/13/2009 @ 07:07

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Miami Heat

Miami Heat logo

The Miami Heat is a professional basketball team based in Miami, Florida, United States. The team is a member of the Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). They play their home games at American Airlines Arena. The team is owned by Micky Arison and is coached by Erik Spoelstra.

The Heat was formed in 1988 as an expansion franchise along with the Charlotte Hornets. Since then, Miami has fielded squads that have made the playoffs 12 out of the 20 seasons, captured seven division titles and won the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks 4-2. They have only won one NBA finals.

The Heat were founded in 1988 during major NBA expansion. Although the inaugural team lost their first 17 games, they 'rebounded' and finished 15-67. In the 1989 NBA Draft, the Heat selected Glen Rice with the fourth pick. He would take them to their first playoff appearance in 1992 against the Chicago Bulls, 1992 and 1995. Miami experienced new heights during the mid 90s with the hiring of Basketball Hall of Famer Pat Riley. He orchestrated deals that sent Rice to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for center Alonzo Mourning. Tim Hardaway came abroad the following year and the Heat begun a streak that saw them reach the postseason a franchise record 6 straight times amid win four divisions titles. Those years were also marked with clashes with the Bulls and the New York Knicks, who eliminated them three straight years.

Miami dwindled in the early 2000s, fielding sub-40 win teams and after several years of rebuilding and draft, the Heat made waves in the 2003 NBA Draft when they selected Dwyane Wade and paired him with Shaquille O'Neal the following season. The duo, along with a resurgent Riley and well-traveled veterans, would lead Miami to three division titles and a NBA championship in 2006 over the Dallas Mavericks in which Wade was named Finals MVP. O'Neal was traded in the 2007-08 NBA season, midway through a nightmare season as Miami went 15-67, a franchise worst.

These are the Miami Heat uniforms worn since the 1999-00 season. The alternate red jersey was introduced during the 2001-02 NBA season and is the unofficial Heat road uniform during the NBA Playoffs. They are also the only team in the NBA to have the NBA logo on the right shoulder instead of the left, though the alternate uniforms of the Washington Wizards contain the NBA logo on the right side.

The 20th Anniversary list compiled by the Miami Heat to celebrate the players.

The flagship radio stations of the Miami HEAT are WINZ (940 AM) in English, with Mike Inglis and John Crotty calling games, and WQBA (1140 AM) in Spanish, with Jose Paneda and Joe Pujala on the call.

The Heat games are televised primary by Sun Sports with Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino. Previously, WBFS-TV, WFOR-TV, and WAMI-TV have all aired some games. Games are occasionally televised by TNT, ESPN, or ABC.

From 1988-1993, the HEAT were on WQAM. WINZ previously aired games from 1993-1996 and WIOD did from 1996-2008.

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History of the Miami Heat

Original Heat logo used from 1988–1999

The History of the Miami Heat, an American basketball team, began in 1988.

During the boom period of the NBA of the 1980s the league sought to expand itself from 23 teams to 27 by the end of the decade. In Florida, a state devoid of any NBA franchises, groups from Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Miami all vied to land franchises.

The Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority eventually endorsed a group led by NBA Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham and former sports agent (and lifelong friend of Cunningham's) Lewis Schaffel, who received their financial backing from Carnival Cruise Lines founder Ted Arison, who would be majority owner. Day-to-day operations would be handled by minority shareholders Cunningham and Schaffel.

In April 1987, the NBA expansion committee endorsed the bids of the cities of Charlotte and Minneapolis. However, the committee was split between awarding the third and final franchise to Miami or Orlando, causing representatives from both cities to toss barbs at the other. Finally, it was decided that the NBA would expand by 4 teams, with the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat debuting for the 1988–89 season and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic beginning for the 1989–90 season .

The Heat came into the NBA for the 1988–89 season with an unproductive first year, with a roster full of young players and journeymen. Among the players on the inaugural roster were first round picks Rony Seikaly and Kevin Edwards, fellow rookies Grant Long and Sylvester Gray as well as NBA vets Rory Sparrow, Jon Sundvold, Pat Cummings, Scott Hastings, Dwayne "Pearl" Washington and Billy Thompson. The team started out the season by losing its first 17 games, an NBA record. It did not help that the Heat were placed in the Midwest Division of the Western Conference, in defiance of all geographic reality. This forced them on the longest road trips in the NBA; their nearest divisional opponent was the Houston Rockets, over 900 miles from Miami. The team ultimately finished with a league-worst 15–67 win-loss record (second worst season in franchise history).

To help address Miami's league-low point production, the Heat picked Glen Rice from the University of Michigan in the first round of the 1989 NBA Draft, and Sherman Douglas of Syracuse University in the 2nd round. The team also moved to the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference for the 1989–90 season, where they would remain for the next 15 years. However, the Heat continued to struggle and never won more than two consecutive games, en route to an 18–64 record.

The 1989–90 season saw Miami awarded with the 3rd pick overall, only to parlay via two trades (first with the Denver Nuggets and later with the Houston Rockets) into getting the 9th and 12th picks, with which they selected Willie Burton of the University of Minnesota and Alec Kessler of the University of Georgia. Both picks flopped, as the Heat tried to turn Burton, a college small forward, into a shooting guard without much success and Kessler was bogged by injury problems and was not physical enough to be a quality NBA power forward.

While Rice, Seikaly and Douglas all showed improvement from the previous year, Miami still only went 24–58 and remained in the Atlantic Division basement.

Rothstein would resign as head coach at the end of the season, but later would return to the Heat prior to the 2004-05 season as an assistant coach, a role he still fulfills today.

In the wake of Rothstein's resignation prior to the 1991–92 season, the Heat hired Kevin Loughery, who had 29 years of experience in the NBA both as a coach and a player, to be their new head coach.

For the 1991 NBA Draft, the team selected Steve Smith from Michigan State, an agile guard, to usher in a new era of a mature Heat team. With the help of rookie Smith, Rony Seikaly, and a more experienced Glen Rice, the Heat finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a 38–44 record and made the playoffs for the first time. Playing the league-best Chicago Bulls, the Heat were swept in three games. Steve Smith made the NBA All-Rookie team and Glen Rice finished 10th in the NBA in scoring.

The 1992-93 NBA season included the additions of draft choice Harold Miner of the University of Southern California as well as trading a 1st round pick (which would turn into the #10 overall pick the following season) for Detroit Pistons forward/center John Salley.

While Salley's addition was first met with hope because of the role that he played on two championship Pistons squads, it became quickly apparent that Salley was a quality role player for a good team, but not a quality player for a mediocre team like Miami was at the time. Salley would eventually have his playing time diminish, ultimately resulting in his being taken by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 expansion draft. As for the season itself, it started off poorly, with Smith missing time with a knee injury and Burton being lost for most of the year with a wrist injury. Upon Smith's return, Miami posted a winning record in February and March, but it was not enough to dig themselves out of the 13–27 hole they began in. They finished 36–46 and would not return to the playoffs.

A healthier squad fared better in 1993–94, posting the franchise's first-ever winning record at 42–40 and returning to the playoffs as the #8 seed versus the Atlanta Hawks. After Miami had a 2-1 series lead, Atlanta rallied from the deficit to win the best-of-5 series. After that season, Steve Smith would be selected as a member of the 2nd Dream Team, the collection of NBA All-Stars who were selected to compete in the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Toronto as Team USA.

Dream Team II, also made up of future Heat players Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Dan Majerle and Tim Hardaway, would go on to win the tournament.

In 1994–95, the team overhauled their roster, trading away Seikaly, Smith, and Grant Long. In return, the Heat obtained Kevin Willis and Billy Owens.

Also, at this time came a changing of ownership in Heat's front office. On February 13, 1995 Cunningham and Lew Schaffel were bought out by the Arison family of Carnival Cruise Lines fame, who to that point in time had been silent partners in the day-to-day operations of the franchise. Ted Arison's son, Micky Arison, was named Managing General Partner. He immediately fired Loughery and replaced him with Alvin Gentry on an interim basis to try and shake up the 17–29 Heat. Gentry went 15–21 for the remaining 36 games of the season for a 32–50 record overall, 10 games off the previous year's mark.

From 1994 to 1997, the Miami Heat sought relocation plans in case the city of Miami resisted a standard facility for the team. Alternative cities were discussed: Las Vegas, Nevada, Memphis, Tennessee (now the home of the Memphis Grizzlies), St. Louis and San Diego. Just when the Miami Heat was struggling to win and stay put, a new era arrived to take them to a new decade of possibilities.

In the 1995 offseason, the Heat hired Pat Riley from the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers and the 1990s New York Knicks to be the team's new president and head coach after he resigned immediately following the 1994-1995 season. Riley dropped a bombshell the night before the season began, sending Glen Rice and Matt Geiger (among others) to the Hornets in exchange for All-Star center Alonzo Mourning. In a flurry of midseason deals, Riley acquired several players including Tim Hardaway, Chris Gatling and Walt Williams. The Heat finished with a winning record with Mourning among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding, but lost in the playoffs in a 3-game sweep against the 72–10 Bulls.

The following season, the Heat made a 19-game improvement in the standings, winning their first-ever Atlantic Division title with a 61–21 record. Playing a key role were new additions Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn, and Voshon Lenard. They took out Riley's former team in seven games, rallying from a 3–1 series deficit, partly due to several Knicks players leaving the bench (leading to several suspensions) during a fight that occurred between P.J. Brown and Charlie Ward after Ward was body-slammed by the usually mild-mannered Brown, leading to a brawl. The Heat were however ousted from the playoffs in five games (after falling into a 3–0 series deficit) by the Bulls for the second consecutive year, this time in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat celebrated their 10-year anniversary in the 1997–98 season and captured their second straight Atlantic Division title. However, in what would become a heated rivalry, the Heat lost in the first round against coach Riley's former team, the New York Knicks after Mourning would miss the deciding Game 5 via suspension after getting into a Game 4 altercation with Larry Johnson and with Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy hanging onto Mourning's leg in an attempt to intervene.

1998-99 was a lockout-shortened season, although Miami would have a conference-best 33-17 record to claim their first-ever #1 seed in the NBA Playoffs. In spite of their seeding, the Heat would lose to the Knicks again after Allan Houston hit a rim-bouncing game-winning jumper in Game 5 to decide the series. The Cinderella story Knicks would go on to play in the 1999 NBA Finals, losing to the San Antonio Spurs.

As a result of their success on the court, the Heat moved into the American Airlines Arena in 1999, with seats for over 20,500 fans. The Heat again lost in a deciding Game 7 to the Knicks by a single point.

During the summer of 2000, the Heat felt it finally needed a change. After losing out to the Orlando Magic to get Raptors swingman Tracy McGrady, Miami decided to trade P.J. Brown and Jamal Mashburn to the Charlotte Hornets (among others) in exchange for Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason and Ricky Davis. Miami also picked up Brian Grant to go along with the core of Mourning, Hardaway, Majerle, Bowen and Carter. The Heat was widely expected to be the favorites in the Eastern Conference until franchise-centerpiece Alonzo Mourning returned from the 2000 Olympics to announce he would miss the entire season due to a rare kidney disorder, known as focal glomerulosclerosis.

The Heat missed Mourning for 69 games in 2000-01, yet found success with Anthony Mason, who was named to his first All-Star game as a reserve. Brian Grant, Eddie Jones and Tim Hardaway also played well for the Heat. Alonzo Mourning returned with 13 games remaining. He was a shell of his former, MVP-candidate self and Miami was swept by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, the same team that Miami acquired Eddie Jones and Anthony Mason from the previous summer, and Alonzo Mourning in that same year.

The following two seasons were two of the darkest in Heat history. Pat Riley missed the playoffs for the first time in his coaching career, and much of the remaining core from the division-title winning Heat teams of the late 1990s departed (Tim Hardaway, Bruce Bowen and Dan Majerle).

Miami rounded out its 2001-02 season roster with players well past their prime such as Rod Strickland, Chris Gatling, Jim Jackson, LaPhonso Ellis and Kendall Gill to along with Mourning, Jones, Grant and Carter, whom the Heat signed to a controversial three-year deal that many said was far too much for the young guard. And to acquire Gatling, Riley and the Heat traded away Ricky Davis, a young, promising player. The trade drew a lot of criticism at the time. The Heat also signed two young, undrafted players in Malik Allen and Mike James to make up for not having a first-round pick in the draft. Miami also signed Vladimir Stepania to back up Alonzo Mourning at center. The aging, veteran team narrowly missed out on the playoffs, despite having a losing record.

Unlike the 2001-02 season, Miami began to rebuild in 2002-03. The Heat drafted Caron Butler in the first round and Rasual Butler in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft. Miami supposedly missed out on potentially selecting Yao Ming by one ping-pong ball during the draft lottery. Alonzo Mourning missed the entire season due to his condition worsening and Eddie Jones also missed a huge portion of the season with an ankle injury. Miami signed Travis Best to be the starting point guard. The Heat was led by Caron Butler and many of the youthful players that have filled out the Heat's roster since 2000 including Eddie House, Carter, Stepania, Allen and James.

Alonzo Mourning's huge contract expired the following summer, giving the Heat some much-needed cap room to rebuild. However, Miami was still a few million dollars away from signing a max contract player. On July 1, 2003, Miami was expecting to hear from Bill Duffy, agent for Anthony Carter, who was expected to make $4.1 million the upcoming season provided he exercised his option. Duffy's agency never informed the team and Miami was free from the contract. In addition, the season earlier, forward LaPhonso Ellis honorably rescinded a clause in his contract which would have forced the Heat to pay Ellis the following season, a burden the Heat could not afford to deal with in the rebuilding process.

With the cap space, Miami signed forward Lamar Odom and guard T. J. Moncrieffe. Riley and the Heat also opted to draft Dwyane Wade out of Marquette University with the 5th overall pick instead of signing a large-scale free agent point guard such as Gilbert Arenas. The pick was somewhat surprising at the time, since it was expected that Miami would draft a true point guard rather than the shooting guard Wade. Miami also signed Udonis Haslem out of the University of Florida, who went undrafted a season earlier and had spent the previous season playing overseas in France. Odom, Alston, Haslem and Wade teamed up with Grant, Jones, Allen and both Butlers to form one of the most surprising teams of the season.

A few days before the start of the 2003-04 season, Pat Riley shocked the basketball world when he stepped down as head coach to focus more on his role as team president and promoted longtime assistant coach Stan Van Gundy to the head coaching position. The team was expected to be among the league's worst by NBA prognosticators. After dealing with early injury problems to Odom, Wade and both Butlers, the team quickly jelled and formed what most members of that team consider to be the most fun season of their careers. The Heat newcomers brought youth and energy to the team. Wade broke several rookie records while other Heat players, such as Odom, revived their careers. Wade began to catch the eye of scouts and fans across the league, especially during the playoffs where Wade led the Heat in toppling the New Orleans Hornets(which had relocated from Charlotte at the end of the 2001-2002 season), the same team that swept the Heat into rebuilding mode just three seasons prior; Miami had returned the favor according to some people. Miami lost to the Indiana Pacers 4–2 in a very entertaining conference semifinals. The Pacers had finished with the best record in the league and saw a young and up-and-coming 42–40 Heat team give them a much tougher series than expected.

After the promising 2003–04 season, Miami again took major steps forward to becoming a championship caliber franchise again. The Heat acquired superstar center Shaquille O'Neal on July 14, 2004 in a historic trade with the Los Angeles Lakers in which Miami shipped Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant out west. Dwyane Wade and O'Neal worked well as a pair and each solidified their position as NBA elites with both averaging over 20 points per game. The season also reunited several former club members. Ron Rothstein, the Heat's inaugural head coach, became an assistant coach, Steve Smith rejoined the club and Alonzo Mourning was re-signed after being released from the Toronto Raptors following the Vince Carter trade in December.

The Heat had its second best record in franchise history: 59–23. They were seeded first in the playoffs, and swept through the first two rounds by winning eight consecutive games against New Jersey and Washington and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals against defending champion Detroit. The teams split the first four games before Miami pushed the Pistons to the brink of elimination with an easy 88–76 victory in Game 5, but in the process lost Dwyane Wade to a strained rib muscle suffered in an attempt to take a charge against Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace. Without Wade, the Heat were decimated 91–66 in Game 6 at Detroit, setting up a deciding Game 7 in Miami. In that game, Wade returned, and the Heat held a 6-point lead with 3 minutes remaining before a series of missed shots and turnovers down the stretch that ultimately cost the Heat the game and a 1st ever trip to the finals in the gut wrenching 88-82 Game 7 loss . Wade apparently struggled to breathe throughout the game due to the rib injury, forcing the Heat's star to play in a limited capacity, although he remarkably managed to score 20 points.

In the offseason, the Heat were drastically retooled. In what was to be the largest trade in NBA history, in a 5-team, 13-player transaction the Heat traded away Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler and Qyntel Woods and in exchange received former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, and James Posey. Miami also signed future Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton, former UCLA star Jason Kapono in addition to first round pick and NCAA All American Wayne Simien. Free agent Damon Jones opted for a bigger contract offered by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Critics were quick to debate whether a reformed Heat team would have chemistry issues and whether or not the team was too old (O'Neal, Mourning and Payton were all in their mid-thirties) or had too many underacheivers (Walker had a reputation of miserable shot selection, and Williams, one of turnover-prone playmaking). After an 11–10 start, O'Neal already hurt, and the fate of the season hanging in the balance these critics seemed to have been proven right.

Then on December 12, 2005 Pat Riley announced that he would become coach of the Heat for the second time, after Van Gundy unexpectedly stepped down due to personal and family reasons. The team responded and went on to win its first three games under Riley until losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland loss encouraged the Heat to finish up the month of December strong. They concluded the month with 4 wins and 2 losses. The Heat though were still criticized, however, for being unable to beat the top caliber teams of the NBA. This criticism though would just grow more and more on the Heat come the month of January and into February. Although they finished January with 10 wins and 5 losses, there was still and some would argue proof that they could not beat the best in the NBA. They had already lost to the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs twice, twice to the Phoenix Suns, and were decimated in a nationally televised broadcast by 36 points to their eventual NBA Finals opponents the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas. The months of February and March were very successful for the Heat, including a stretch of 15 wins in 16 games which began with a crucial comeback victory over the Perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse Detroit Pistons. Dwyane Wade was electric and Shaquille O'Neal stepped up his game up in a tremendous fashion, helping the Heat resurge and finish with a 52-30 record, good enough for a 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Their record was respectable but was viewed as somewhat underachieved compared to the 2004-2005 59 win and 1st place playoff seeded season.

Earning the second seed in the 2006 playoffs, the Miami Heat drew the seventh seed Chicago Bulls as their first-round opponent. The Heat won the first two games of the series at home, despite Udonis Haslem being ejected in the first game and suspended for the second for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of the referee. The team lost games three and four in Chicago but bounced back to win game five at home. By winning game six in Chicago, the Heat eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs and went on to face the New Jersey Nets in the second round. The Heat lost Game 1 at home, 100–88, but won the next four to oust the Nets from the playoffs for the second year in a row, taking Game 5 at home 106–105. The Heat subsequently advanced to their second Eastern Conference Finals in as many years. The Heat opened up the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals in Detroit, facing the Pistons in a rematch of the previous year's Eastern Conference Finals, in which the top-seeded Heat lost Game 7 in heartbreaking fashion. The Heat immediately stole home court advantage by winning Game 1. Although Miami lost the second game 92–88 (despite a near comeback after trailing by eighteen at one point), they maintained home court advantage. Home for the next two games, they won both Game 3 (98–83) and Game 4 (89–78) to take a 3–1 series lead. The Detroit Pistons then won Game 5 in The Palace of Auburn Hills 91–78, but the Heat answered back, winning game 6 (95–78) and with it the series (4–2) in Miami.

After defeating the Detroit Pistons, the Heat advanced to their first NBA Finals in franchise history against the Dallas Mavericks. For the Mavericks, like the Heat, this was also their first NBA Finals appearance.

The Heat were outplayed by the Mavericks in the first two games in Dallas, with the second game being an embarrassing blowout. Things looked worse in Game 3 when the Heat faced a 13-point gap in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter, with Dallas looking to take a 3–0 lead in the series. Led by Dwyane Wade, who single handedly dismantled the Mavericks after falling 0-2 by leading the Heat to a 98-96 comeback in game 3 and after that he never looked back, the Heat were able to make an incredible comeback victory to salvage the series. Similar success came in Game 4, when the Miami Heat once again beat the Mavericks with a combined team effort. The Miami Heat were able to establish their ability to play under pressure in Game 5, which went into overtime. Nevertheless, the effort of Wade with his 43 points, including the game tying basket and clutch overtime free throws, propelled the Heat to within one victory of their first championship in franchise history.

The third consecutive victory at home placed the Heat in the rare company of home teams who have swept the middle three games since the NBA switched to the 2–3–2 format for the finals in 1985 (Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League also use the 2-3-2 format for the championship series). The only team to have previously accomplished that feat were the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.

On June 20, Game 6, the Heat took the NBA title in Dallas, winning the series four games to two. In winning the series, the Heat became only the third team in NBA history to win the final series after being down 0–2, following the 1969 Boston Celtics and the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers. The Heat overcame a miserable start with a 14-point gap to wear down the Mavericks, and lead by one point (49–48) at the halftime horn. Again, Wade played a vital role, powering the Heat to a late lead. He was helped by an impressive five blocks by Alonzo Mourning (the Heat had over 10 team blocks in the game even though they were averaging a little over 2 blocks in the series) and clutch shooting by James Posey, who drained a cold-blooded three pointer which put the Heat ahead by six with 3 minutes to go. Surprisingly, the Mavericks were down only three with a few seconds to go after a pair of missed free-throws by Dwyane Wade. However, Dallas would be put to rest after Wade captured the rebound, fittingly ending the game by tossing the ball in the air after a missed three-point shot attempt by Jason Terry. Wade would go on to win the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

The championship proved all the more poignant for Miami's veteran superstars Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, and Antoine Walker who had never before won an NBA championship. Mourning and Payton both re-signed with the Heat for the 2006-07 season, wanting to win another championship. The championship marked the seventh win for Coach Pat Riley (fifth as a head coach), and fourth title to Shaquille O'Neal, both of whom fulfilled their promise to the citizens of Miami in 1995 (when Riley first came to Miami and said he "envisioned a parade on Biscayne Boulevard") and in July 2004 (when Shaq first came to Miami and vowed to "bring the title home"). Shaq also promised after the win to win the NBA championship again in 2007, if and only if Dwyane Wade were present and healthy for the ride through the playoffs.

The Heat got off to a poor start in the 2007 season, losing to the Chicago Bulls by 42 points (66-108), the worst home loss in team history and worst margin of defeat for a defending champion on opening day in NBA history. Shaquille O'Neal played the first few games for the Heat then missed over thirty games with a right knee injury. Key members of the Heat's championship run last season, particularly Antoine Walker and Gary Payton, were finding themselves on the bench more often at the expense of the Heat's questionable, at best, duo of Jason Kapono and Dorell Wright.

The first half of the Heat's season was full of misfortune. Coach Riley took an indefinite leave, Dwyane Wade briefly injured his right wrist, and James Posey and Antoine Walker were delisted after failing a body mass exam.

Matters improved for the team. Rothstein, the Heat's original head coach, returned on an interim basis. Both Posey and Walker were reinstated. Former Heat star Eddie Jones re-signed with the team after being released by the Memphis Grizzlies. O'Neal returned to play in January. Riley resumed his duties as head coach at the start of the second half of the season.

After Wade's injury, many predicted the Heat would fail even to make the playoffs. Those predictions were quickly dismissed as the Heat surged, winning 11 out of 14 games at one point. In that time, Miami posted a nine-game winning streak (defeating such teams as the Pistons, Wizards, Bulls and Jazz), in addition to extending a home winning streak to 14. Shaquille O'Neal was a primary cause for the Heat's resurgence, playing his best basketball of the season and serving as a focal point of the offense. Having a roster full of veterans and former All-Stars also had a notable benefit in dealing with the loss of Dwyane Wade. Miami was able to post a 16-7 record without its star guard and, in the process, the Heat were able to win a third consecutive Southeast Division title.

Shortly after Wade returned, Shaquille O' Neal's grandfather had died, causing him to miss two games. Additionally, Udonis Haslem and Gary Payton were bit by the injury bug; Haslem with a groin aggravation and Payton with a calf injury that will sideline him for two to three weeks. The Heat finished the regular season with a 44-38 record and faced the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, to whom they lost 4-0 in the best of seven series. Miami Heat became the first defending champion since 1957 to get swept in the first round in the following season. It was also the first four-game playoff series sweep suffered in Miami Heat history.

After a disappointing 2006-07 season, the Heat looked to move forward. Miami retained the 20th and 39th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. On June 28, 2007, the Miami Heat selected Colorado State forward Jason Smith with the 20th overall selection then traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers for the draft rights to 21st overall selection, guard Daequan Cook from Ohio State and cash considerations. With the 39th overall selection, the Miami Heat drafted Stanko Barac, a center from Bosnia, but later traded his rights to the Indiana Pacers for a future second round pick. The Heat lost Jason Kapono to the Toronto Raptors and James Posey to the Boston Celtics. The Heat got a much-needed point guard when they picked up Smush Parker from free agency and signed him to a 3-year deal and veteran guard Penny Hardaway reuniting the Shaq-Penny duo. Hardaway was later waived in December. Also in the 2007 Offseason, the Miami Heat made a 5 player trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, bringing back Ricky Davis and Mark Blount. Leaving the Heat was Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien, Michael Doleac, and a conditional 1st round pick. Davis was on the Heat in August 2000 but fell out of favor with Riley. When the trade occurred he was seen as a more polished scorer and was projected to have been third option for the Heat to compliment Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, had the circumstances of the season turned out differently.

On December 19, 2007, during the 1st quarter of the game versus the Atlanta Hawks while getting back on a fast-break, Alonzo Mourning tore the right patellar tendon in his right knee and was required to undergo a season-ending -- some even say career-ending knee surgery, although Mourning maintains that he has not, nor has he made plans for retirement.

On Tuesday, February 5, 2008, ESPN reported that the Heat were interested in trading center Shaquille O'Neal, contrary to reports by Pat Riley one month earlier that the Heat was not interested in trading the 13 time all-star. The next day however, the Heat agreed to trade O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, effectively ending the Wade-Shaq era.

As of April 16, 2008 the Heat clinched the worst record in the NBA at 15-67. Despite the recent losing funk the Heat have fallen into, they have re-committed themselves to rebuild and turn the franchise around and get it back to the level it was just 2 years ago when they won the 2006 championship, and are projected by many to possibly have a busy 2008 offseason due to the fact that they could possibly have plenty of free salary cap room with the departure of O'Neal and now that they are looking towards the future and to build around superstar Dwyane Wade. Wade has also adamantly committed himself to the rebuilding plan and has said in a public statement that he's in Miami for the longhaul and wants to be part of the rebuilding process currently taking place, since it was his drafting in the 2003 draft that helped turn the franchise around at that time. Late in the season with the Heat well out of any type of realistic playoff contention, head coach Pat Riley missed two games because he went to scout certain NCAA basketball conference tournament games, to prepare in the likely event that the Heat receive the number 1 or 2 lottery pick in the 2008 draft. It was announced on March 10, 2008, that Heat guard Dwyane Wade would be inactive for the rest of the season to help him rehabilitate his ailing knee and shoulder that he has re-aggravated, in hopes of starting in the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. It was announced on March 10 that the Heat have finally waived guard Smush Parker, opening the opportunity to add a player signed to a 10-day contract. Parker has not seen action in a Heat uniform and has been in Pat Riley's "doghouse" since the first few games of the 07-08 season after he got into a dispute and altercation with a Valet Parking attendant who accused him of not paying the parking fee, Miami Police are still looking into the matter. On March 12, 2008, they signed Bobby Jones to a 10-day contract, looking for help at the shooting guard and small forward positions. At the end of March 2008, as if the season had not gone bad enough, the Miami Heat posted the third lowest point total in the history of the NBA during the shot clock era during a 96-54 loss to the Toronto Raptors on March 19, followed by a new record for the fewest made baskets (17) in another lost game against the Boston Celtics on March 30.The Heat finished the season on a positive note on April 16 to close out the season with a 113-99 victory over the playoff bound Atlanta Hawks. The win ties for the worst franchise record set by the 1988-89 heat On April 28, 2008, Pat Riley stepped down as the head coach of the Heat but remained Team President. He replaced himself with longtime Assistant Coach Erik Spoelstra, who at 37, became the youngest coach in the NBA. Riley finished his career with 1,210 victories, third all-time behind Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson.

On May 20, 2008, the Heat obtained the number 2 pick in the 2008 NBA draft as a result of the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery. They were expected to select power forward Michael Beasley, point guard Derrick Rose or guard O. J. Mayo. Immediately following the draft lottery, Pat Riley suggested the team would listen to any trade offers for the second overall pick. However, he did stress the right offer would have to be made in order for the Heat to even consider such a trade (e.g., the Kevin Garnett trade to Boston from the 2007 offseason).

On June 26, 2008, the Bulls selected Rose as expected, leaving the Heat to select Beasley. In the second round, with the 52nd overall pick, the Heat chose Kansas forward Darnell Jackson. Somewhat unexpectedly, it was announced that the Heat agreed to trade the lesser two of their three 2009 second-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the draft rights of talented Kansas guard Mario Chalmers, who helped lead Kansas to the NCAA championship, including making a three-point shot that sent the game to overtime. It was also later announced that Darnell Jackson's draft rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the lesser of their two second-round picks in 2009.

In early July, the free agent period began and with limited cap space the Heat signed local James Jones (basketball player) as the team's three-point specialist. Along with the acquisition of Yakhouba Diawara and Jamaal Magloire the Heat added depth and experience to their roster.

On September 29, 2008, Randy Pfund stepped down as General Manager, elevating Pat Riley to that position. Four days later, the Miami Heat signed point guard Shaun Livingston, a former L.A Clipper.

As of November 16, 2008, the Heat stand at a 5–4 record (3rd in the Southeast Division, 7th seed in Conference). Dwyane Wade, as many have stated, is back to NBA Finals Performance, averaging roughly 28 points a game, slightly behind NBA leading scorer, Cleveland Cavalier's LeBron James who has roughly 29 PPG.

On November 5, 2008, 2nd-round draft pick and rookie Mario Chalmers of the Heat set a new franchise record of 9 steals in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. That exceeded the old record set by Tim Hardaway for the most steals by a rookie in the Heat's 21 year history. The Heat are currently 26–22.

On February 13, 2009, the Heat traded Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Toronto Raptors for center Jermaine O'Neal and forward Jamario Moon. Miami had been rumored to be pursuing O'Neal, as well as Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer. The trade was meant to address the team's lack of a low post presence.

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2005–06 Miami Heat season

The 2005-06 Miami Heat season was eighteenth National Basketball Association season for the Miami Heat basketball franchise. The highlight of the season was winning the 2006 NBA Finals. The team was nicknamed "15 Strong".

Heat clinched a 2 seed at the Eastern Conference for the 2006 NBA Playoffs.

Dallas' Jason Terry scored a playoff-high 32 points as the Mavericks overcame a 31–23 deficit at the end of the first quarter.

Dirk Nowitzki had a stellar 26 point-16 rebound performance, and the Mavericks cruised past the Heat to take a 2–0 series lead.

Led by Dwyane Wade's 42 points and 13 rebounds, the Heat rallied from a 13-point deficit with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The momentum-changing comeback was capped by a Gary Payton field goal from just inside the three-point line with 9.3 seconds left.

Dwyane Wade shined again for the Heat with 36 points, and Miami held Dallas to just seven points in the fourth quarter en route to a series-tying, blowout victory. The Mavericks' low-scoring fourth quarter was the lowest ever by any team during the NBA Finals. Jerry Stackhouse caught Shaquille O'Neal with a flagrant foul that resulted in him being suspended for Game 5.

Making a strong case for NBA Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade was the star yet again with 43 points shooting as many free throws as all the Mavericks combined, leading the Heat to their third straight win over Dallas after being down 0–2 in the series. After a controversial play in which Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thought Wade committed a backcourt violation, Wade hit the game-winning free throws with 1.9 seconds left, and also made the shot that sent the game into overtime. He set an NBA Finals record for most made free-throws in a game with 21. The NBA, upon further review of the play, deemed that the officials made the correct call, and that there was no backcourt violation committed.

After the game, Dirk Nowitzki kicked a ball into the stands and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban caused many "acts of misconduct" resulting in both of them being fined $5,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Behind Dwyane Wade's 36 points, Miami edged Dallas to win their first championship in franchise history. Averaging 34.7 points per game in the championship series, Wade was named NBA Finals MVP (Most Valuable Player).

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2007–08 Miami Heat season

The 2007-08 Miami Heat season was their 20th season in the National Basketball Association. As a result, the Heat jerseys bear a XX on the rightmost part. After a disappointing end to last season, the Heat looked for revenge but the season turned out to be even more disastrous as they finished with the worst record in the league and equaled the worst record in franchise history.

Miami's selections from the 2007 NBA Draft in New York, New York.

The Heat have been involved in the following transactions during the 2007-08 season.

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Source : Wikipedia